Category Archives: Movies

The Case for Christ

I went to see a Christian movie! Does that sound unnatural to say as if it were something of a dare or something so unprecedented as to be worthy of declaration?

Well, it is a little of both really. With the exception of religious based classics of the 50’s and 60’s, most films since that time are ham-fisted embarrassments. I say that as when I was an atheist and I say it now (I should note I am as shitty at religion as I was at atheism – I am, however, a professional ass). I love the classic religious films, Charlton Heston classics Ben-Hur (not the remake!) The Ten Commandments (not the remake!) Quo Vadis (although the book was vastly superior) A Man For All Seasons and some others.

One of my favorites is Jesus of Nazareth from 1977, mostly because Robert Powell nailed it so perfectly. It was, as far as I can tell, the last of its kind. I contrast this film with the miniseries The Bible from 2013. Particularly bad was the New Testament parts where Eddie Vedder, I mean Jesus Christ (or was it the singer from Creed?) comes out of the boat with gleaming white teeth a happy smile for the kiddies ready to be everyone’s special little buddy. I call it the Delta Dental of Bethlehem Bible Special… Tinggg! To paraphrase Vin Diesel (from a trailer for what I’m sure was totally retarded XXX) “Tonight, I might be crucified, but at least I’ll look hot doing it!”

Anyway, The Case for Christ wasn’t intended to be any of those movies as it is based on a true story as told by Lee Strobel. It is basically his story of how he investigated the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ and how he became convinced of its truth. The interesting part of the story is what motivated him to begin the investigation.

SPOILERS!!!

Basically his wife, after a traumatic scare involving their young daughter, starts to turn to Christianity and faith. The couple were committed atheists. The husband rebels against this most strongly, vehemently. He is seeking a way to “save” his wife, and their marriage, from ruin. This may seem strange to some, but to some atheists leaving the fold can seem exactly like apostasy. And I’ve seen some people convert (or at least purport to convert) who turned into worse people than before they went in.

This was, to Strobel, the worst thing that could happen to their marriage so he seeks the advice of a colleague at the Tribune (he was a reporter) who was Christian how he should deal with this. The colleague, who is confident Strobel won’t win, tells him if wants to bring down Christianity it all rests on the Resurrection. As Paul said also, if that falls, the faith is in vain. Strobel takes this challenge head-on.

Without giving away the whole pie (and proceeding to do so anyway, as the spoiler sign was already posted) Strobel loses his challenge also suffering a deep personal tragedy along the way, and ends up coming to the faith as his wife did shortly before.

What was interesting, fascinating – to me anyway, was not so much Strobel’s investigation (although that was interesting as well, for instance, I had never heard of the “swoon theory” before this) but the conflict between the husband and wife. It was very well acted and didn’t even feel like it belonged on a smaller screen which sometimes these movies feel they need. That is probably because we’ve been led to expect giant boom booms! and nothing else for so long.

One aspect of this that is worthy of note is how easily this could have been any number of different films. It really pivoted on the actions and choices of the wife. He treated her change of heart as if she were being led down some dark alley of occultism. And that could have been a movie (it is probably several already) if this wasn’t based on a true story. If he were trying to save her from the cult of Jim Jones, the husband becomes a hero and all sympathy is with him. But, unless you are staunch atheist, the sympathy in the film is not with him, but her.

Because to someone who takes their atheism seriously (most of the one’s I have personally known – and probably myself included, but I just don’t know because I never even contemplated Strobel’s dilemma before my atheism wilted but, probably, most likely I’d be just such an ass – let’s say for now probably 70% likelihood of ass-ness) your wife or husband converting, even to a simple, local parish IS JONESTOWN! It is all the same, and you look upon it with all the incredulity as if your adult wife or husband were suddenly, and seriously, writing letters to Santa Clause.

What the fuck is wrong with you?! Have you completely lost your mind? Have you been a coward this whole time? So, you are just going to throw way your reason!? It’s a f***ing cult, are you blind!?

I know that reaction. I’ve reflexed that reaction (not on my wife, she’s still pure atheist) on people in the past even if I wasn’t too terribly aggressive. And I’ve seen milder versions of that reaction since I started carrying religious texts along with me the last couple years. One year at NORWESCON I took the Catechism of the Catholic Church with me for break time reading and a friend of mine seeing it said “yeew, yuck!” Without even knowing my reason for reading it nor, I’d bet, knowing a single word in the text.

To the committed atheist, no differences matter, it is all the same. Same, but all things are not equal. I’ve never heard a story of a wife or husband flipping out because one of them became Buddhist. So she lights up a little incense, stretches and chants twenty minutes every morning? It’s a little hokey but hey, I still eat Fruit Loops in the morning, so who’s to judge?

Got to get ready for work. Good film.

Advertisements

STAR WARS VIII THE LAST JEDI

With the last installment from the mind of no-imagination J.J. Abrams making me nostalgic for the Star Wars prequels, I have No Hope for this movie. Even though I will take myself to the theater to see it.

I am not even providing a link to the new trailer. I have no real interest in seeing Mary Sue do EVERYTHING. How one explains away all the ridiculous shit Abrams put in the last installment is beyond me. My bet is, judging from the trailer, the new director and screenwriter said, “screw it, she found Luke Skywalker, she’s on the planet, we’ll just trust the audience to gloss over any “technicalities.”

The “technicalities” here consist of some of the worst story writing ever put to film. Abrams likes (or he is grotesquely incompetent) to “reboot” franchises by breaking all the rules already established by the franchise. That, however, you cannot do. You can do everything else, but the rules of the invented world are what constitute it’s verisimilitude. If Jason (Friday the 13th) can take a hatchet through his skull and still come after you, a bullet in the gut is not allowed to take him out. You, dear viewer, may balk at the unreality of his surviving the hatchet to the skull in the first place, but if you accept it then a rule has been set – nothing less than that can stop him.

The character of the girl in Abram’s Star Wars (unlike the George Lucas movies, including the prequels, I can’t remember the names of Abrams characters) acquires a complete set of Jedi skills in that film – with no knowledge, no training, without even a knowledge of a thing such as the Force. The rule is – only a long process of merciless training from a master will give you the skill to go fighting with a lightsaber against a baddie (or JJ Abrams spoiled teenager stand it.. Kylo – what a douchebag emo name). That was established in The Empire Strikes Back.

Abrams shouldn’t be allowed out of a movie set concession stand. How anyone let this guy behind a camera is beyond me. If the new director or screenwriter can fart his way out the galactic sized plot holes from the previous movie, I will consider him a writing wizard.


“The Matrix” (Part 1 of 2) Commentary by Fr. Robert Barron | Word On Fire

Source: “The Matrix” (Part 1 of 2) Commentary by Fr. Robert Barron | Word On Fire

I became a fan of now Bishop Robert Barron several years ago after stumbling upon his commentary on the Matrix and Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower on YouTube. Hell, I even became a Dylan fan. That’s saying a lot because Dylan’s music is not in my usual sphere.

Before that I assumed priests to be quite removed from anything so earthly. Actually I didn’t know anything at all about priests outside of scenes from The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror. This clip is part one of two parts on the Matrix. If you want to see part two or any of his other stuff, he is not hard to find on youtube.

Happy Viewing!


The Force Awakens – Revisited

Last Monday, nearly a month after seeing it the first time, I went back and watched it early in the morning. I have to say I had a much better impression of it the second time I watched it than the first time. That is certainly something I could never get myself to do with the prequels.

One of the things I had against it the first time is the usual, modern, spectacle of skinny little girls beating up men. But, on review, before she got what I have to call a Force infusion, she engaged in no upper body combat, merely kicking and a staff. That’s alright, I can buy that.

I know it is heretical to say nowadays, but girls are not as physically strong as boys. So I need a good explanation as to why a waif is sending men to the floor. Trinity in The Matrix had a very good reason – she was in the Matrix. If she was doing that to giant goons in the real world, I would have laughed.

I still have a problem with her being able to do all manner of things for which there is, as yet, little explanation. One hopes that the new guy on the film is not a drooling retard and realizes that he has to come up with a way cool power for Luke that enables him to virtually train Jedi from afar…


The Force Awakens… Tired and Confused

Star_Wars_Episode_VII_The_Force_Awakens

So I saw The Force Awakens on Christmas Eve.

Based on initial viewing – meh.

First the good points (and I’m going to be quick).

It did not look like the prequels, it had the look (so far as you can try such a thing) and feel (you can never really go back…) of the originals.

Also I knew as soon as the usual episode scroll rides to the top of the screen that we were not going to get bogged down in senate debates and Jedi council meetings, and conversations that take place on a couch, etc. We were going to get what we came for.

Unfortunately that brings right to the bad. I was almost, no I was, hoping for a council meeting, a senate debate or something. This was a JJ Abrams Star Wars, all guff and action and not a single attempt to explain anything.

Now explanation is not always necessary. In movies in particular, if you can express it through action instead of explanation through dialogue, that is the proper way. In Return of the Jedi we needed no explanation to know what is going on behind the mask as the Emperor is electrocuting his son before his eyes.

But The Force Awakens, as  I said, is a JJ Abrams film, he delights in doing things that have to have an explanation and then refuses to do so. It is as if the man enjoys pushing people out of the world of his own films.

Firstly, the trailers for The Force Awakens all had the black storm trooper (he is black when he takes off that helmet, his uniform is as any other stormtrooper) he looks like a man that has just suddenly emerged from a terrorizing nightmare. We are led to believe that this is the person of the new trilogy. But it is not, it belongs to some little girl. A girl who serves the modernly well-worn bromidic falsehood that little girls can fight and defeat men twice her size.

And that would be fine, if we were given some plausible (plausible here is plausible by the rules of the world created) reason for why she can do this. For instance, waif, Carrie Moss’s character, Trinity, in The Matrix Continue reading


Oh My God! Oh My God! Fan boy Pees Self and Faints

Final Star Wars trailer released last night. During Monday night football at work at the bar. People were saying, “Is that Han Solo?” “Yes, it’s fucking Han Solo! Where have you been?”

This trailer as well as the poster last night, showed no trace of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. This should be a sign, if the movie-makers are not total drooling retards, that Skywalker’s entrance into the movie is going to be a huge freaking payoff as millions of men my age lose their shit as their childhood hero appears on the screen.

God, I hope they do these movies well! We can all put the trauma of the prequels behind us. The original trilogy will become films 1 – 3, the new ones will be 4 – 6. We’ll probably have to live with Lucas’ messing around with the originals. I am willing to bet part of his deal with selling to Disney was they do not get the original cuts. Although if Disney does have the original cuts they could make a literal pile (very big pile) of money rereleasing them. This time I want greed to win! Go for the money, Disney! Release the original theatrical releases! Without a doubt it would be the biggest selling thing – ever. I’d buy two copies and put it on as much media as I could so no one would take it away again!

Downside. At the end of the trailer it says “Tickets now on sale.” NOW!?!? It’s two damned months away! You know no one who hasn’t already bought a ticket is seeing it on the first day. Or the second. Couple left for the third day… going, going.


Where is Luke Skywalker?

TheForceAwakens-poster

I am sure my father wishes I had grown up by now, but I really just can’t help but get excited about a new Star Wars movie. Not even George Lucas (to say nothing of maturity (or lack thereof)) and his prequels can’t get it down too much. This is, after all the story we really care about. The one that should have come after the originals. IF! If there were further movies to be made. There did not have to be. I would have been perfectly content with the originals UNMOLESTED!

So it was with no small amount of gushing that I saw the movie poster! Although I will curb my enthusiasm. I thought the Star Trek reboots with JJ Abrams to be pretty forgettable. That was a reboot, however, this is not.

I hope they don’t screw up these movies. Luke Skywalker was my childhood hero – well, from seven through eleven or so.

But onto the subject of the post. And it is just a trivial thing. There is no Luke Skywalker that I can see on that poster. Where is he? Or is he on that poster? Is he the guy at the top? That would – could – make for one hell of a story!

Let’s hope those questions were worth asking after December 19th.

Two Months!

 

 


Barbarella

Jane_Fonda_Barbarella_03pop

 

Man, what the hell happened to people in the late 60’s? This is got to be one of the dumbest movies I have ever seen. And, yes, I made it through the whole thing. Hanoi Jane (part and parcel of 60’s and 70’s insanity) shows her B-acting skills in what has to be the single most worthless character to ever grace the screen. She, supposedly the only one future Earth can depend on to save the galaxy, achieves exactly zero. Except for getting laid three times and breaking the orgasm machine, which figured into the plot not at all (hold it, did I just say PLOT???) the entirety of what passes for the events of the story could have gone on completely without her.

I can’t believe this was a short few years before one of the greatest science fiction movies ever. I’m talking of course about Star Wars. [On a side note, I am seriously trying to not get excited about the new Star Wars film this Christmas. I’ll probably fail!]

I mean – wow. For those too young to remember (I was just a small child at the time myself) I called Jane Fonda Hanoi Jane because of her famous rallying for the communist Vietnam army and her deplorable words against our servicemen. Servicemen, at least in my humble opinion, that were victims of, not only a senseless war, but the worst executed war in American history. Sorry, it was not technically a war (which was part of the problem) Congress declared nothing. And, lest we forget, the draft was still in effect then as well.

The 60’s always appears to me as some sick, diabolical joke (don’t get me wrong, the 80’s were a joke as well, but that’s because we were the first trivial generation). You still hear people of the era mention how they really did something back then. It was the age of love, they were the age of aquarius, the generation of peace.

 

We’re still feeling the repercussions. The Manson Family, that is the proper symbol of the counterculture of the 60’s. It was a disaster in every single facet.

This movie reminded me of just how F’d up that period was.


Calvary & Christmas Movies

MV5BMTc3MjQ1MjE2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTMzNjE4MTE@._V1_SX214_AL_

CALVARY is not a Christmas movie although it is has a Christian theme.

Brendan Gleeson plays Father James, a Catholic priest, in an abusive, hostile, post sexual abusive scandal, small town in Ireland. These people are not only jerks, they are a motley mess of vices and malice. The vice and malice is directed at him.

I’ll give only the opening scene. Father James is sitting in the confessional reading while awaiting a penitent. One arrives and starts telling the priest about violent sexual assaults he suffered at the hands of a priest while he was growing up. The abusive priest is now dead. The person says this (quoting from memory) “Father, I am going to kill you. Killing an evil priest is nothing, but to kill a good one, ah, that is making a statement. I’m going to kill you next Sunday.”

The rest is up to you. I thought it an excellent, disturbing film. Note the title of the movie.

The only problem I had was in the write up of the film. On iTunes it was touted as a “wickedly funny black comedy”.

Whoever wrote that either did not see the film, or is rather sick in the head. When the first thing the man tells the priest is the first time he tasted semen was when he was seven years old (relating to his abuse) did this person laugh? There were a few light exchanges to be found in the film, a humorous quip here and there as one would find in any other drama. But that film was not a comedy, not by any non-nihilistic person.

That line is from a review of the movie from Time Out. The writer warns the reader that Calvary is not as filled with “big guffaws” as the director’s previous movie “The Guard”. And that the humor is dark enough to be an acquired taste that some may not be able to take.

Quite true if it were a comedy.  If it was they missed entirely and made a very moving drama instead. Was I supposed to laugh when the millionaire took down one of his expensive paintings and proceeded to Continue reading


Interstellar

First a RANT: [But it is a seven paragraph rant so… IT WAS GREAT!]

People, put away those satanic cell phones! I feel like I am living in some alien world of electronically addicted zombies. Can we not look at our phones for the duration of a single movie? I noticed three people (and I was trying not to see it so there may have been many more) in the rows in front of me that couldn’t go five minutes. Open up their phone, check their messages, their emails, their twitter, their Facebook. Someone’s phone even rang in the middle of the movie even though there are about 5 messages and commercials that boom at IMAX levels about TURNING OFF YOUR FUCKING CELL PHONES (my wording is better). The person wasn’t so droolingly inconsiderate as to answer the damned call.

I look at it the same as I would a drunk vomiting into a gutter or a person smoking a cigarette through a hole in their throat or a junkie shooting up. I was about to say at least this habit won’t kill you, but then I remembered the vehicle accident statistics for such people – never mind.

I haven’t really looked into it, but I’m curious as to the mental damage accrued for such an addiction. Lack of social skills is one; I can observe that in my job. It is a dependency issue, clearly. Some people I work with cannot work for more than 20 or so a minutes at a time without checking in with their roommate or girlfriend or some other form of communication.

TURN THEM OFF! USE WHEN NECESSARY! WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO ACTUALLY SAY! WE’LL ALL GET ALONG FINE UNTIL YOU DO! LOOK UP! DO SOMETHING CREATIVE, LEARN SOMETHING, TALK TO A FELLOW HUMAN, NO, NO, TO A FELLOW HUMAN NOT AT A FELLOW HUMAN – THEY ARE NOT GIANT EARS BORN TO RECEIVE YOUR BLATHERINGS.

Here is another thing. When you have a child that is still babbling at the ripe old age of 6 months, do not bring the child to a science fiction movie in IMAX (which is LOUD). Get a baby sitter or stay home. Yeah, being a parent is a bitch, I’m sure. But at $17.25 a ticket no one wants to hear your baby scream its head off. I wasn’t watching this thing in the ghetto, these people are all well-to-do, they can afford a baby sitter. Or, if they feel they cannot trust a baby sitter, you can watch it on your giant LCD television in HD streaming in a few months time.

Someone went out and complained and the ushers asked the people to take their baby outside so the guests (paying $17.25 a ticket) could watch their movie.

I’m not one of those people that goes off every time someone’s kid starts wailing (unless the kid is 8 or something, then you are dealing with those modern weak parents who views their child as a friend thus adding to the surplus population of fragile, thin-skinned iPhone addicted whiners) but, damn a theater is not the place for babies that small. Especially a movie as loud as that one was.

Which movie was that again?

Ah, Interstellar. Mmm, how to describe this movie. It had everything on the Continue reading